Public Enemy Number One

The most hated businessman this year is Ezra Harel, the controling shareholder in Rogosin Enterprises.

For years, Harel handled Rogosin's financials as though he would never have to redeem bonds. Financially-suspect deals, investments in failing companies, and enormous administrative expenses led Rogosin to NIS 100 million loss within four years.

What probably irked investors most was the NIS 2.2 million bill for management and general costs, while quarterly revenues fell to NIS 52,000. By the time the company had to start redeeming its bonds, there was no cash in the company coffers, even though they had held NIS 30 million just a few months prior.

One day before payment was due, Harel played the ultimate trick and sold control of Rogosin to his friend Yochai Schneider for $100,000. Schneider, who was banking on debt forgiveness, dropped out of the game when he realized that the bond bearers had more clout than him. Schneider quit after refusing to sign the financial statements for the second quarter of 2002, claiming he hadn't been on the board, or at the company, during the period.

The bond bearers, whom Harel called "greedy" because they dared demand their money, managed to appoint Pinhas Rubin as temporary receiver. Rubin is now trying to track the millions that flowed out of Rogosin. His first report already stated that Harel's dealings were seriously questionable.